Tapeworm drug to be trialled nationally as COVID treatment

pharmafile | June 25, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications COVID-19, NHS, dialysis, kindey, tapeworm 

Kidney patients in Bristol are being offered a clinical trial to see whether a drug used for tapeworm patients can help protect them from COVID-19.

The drug niclosamide has been re-formulated into a nasal spray to be used twice a day.

Before the vaccine, data shows one in five kidney patients with COVID receiving dialysis or with a kidney transplant died within four weeks.

The trial, which began at Addenbroke’s Hospital in Cambridge in February, is rolling out to 40 hospitals across the UK, including those run by North Bristol NHS Trust.

If the charity and industry-funded trial is successful, it may pave the way for a new treatment to prevent or alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in people on dialysis, people who have had a kidney transplant, and people with auto-immune diseases affecting the kidneys such as vasculitis who require treatment to suppress their immune system.

The treatment will last up to nine months.

Professor Jeremy Hughes, kidney doctor and Chair of Trustees at Kidney Research UK, one of the charities funding the trial, said: “We must do everything we can to protect kidney patients who are at serious risk from COVID-19. Sadly, data collected before the vaccine rollout began showed one in five kidney patients receiving dialysis in hospital or who have a kidney transplant and tested positive for the virus died within four weeks.

“Many of those on dialysis are having to put themselves at risk and attend their renal unit for life-saving dialysis treatment several times each week.”

Hughes went on to say that kidney transplant patients were also more susceptible to infection because they had to continue taking immunosuppressant drugs.

Kidney Research UK said that in the trial, people would twice a day take one puff of the spray up each nostril, as this was where the virus could take hold and the delivery was likely to reduce the chances of side effects.

Dr Fergus Caskey, renal consultant at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “If successful, our innovative trial could mean that the treatment becomes available to kidney patients more widely within months.

“It would mean they could receive their regular life-saving dialysis or take their immunosuppressant drugs without additional worry.”

According to Kidney Research UK, about 64,000 people receive dialysis treatment or have had a kidney transplant in the UK.

Kat Jenkins

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